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Foreign Policy Following Wwii

Essay by review  •  December 7, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,211 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,512 Views

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Though the United States was the military power of the world prior to World War II, its foreign policy was one of detachment. The government was determined not to get involved in other countries affairs barring unusual circumstances. A World War provided big enough means to become involved, as many Americans became enraged with the military ambitions of Japan and Germany.

Following World War II, Soviet leader Stalin initially agreed to a democratic government in Poland and to free elections in other Soviet-occupied countries, but he ignored his own promises. This caused the United States and Britain to ignore Stalin's wish of taking a hard line with Germany in settlement talks. The Soviets formed the Socialist Unity party in East Berlin and effectively gained control of East Germany. Though this had a lot to do with the fact that the European people were increasingly tired and lacked the energy to fight a growing Socialist party line, another major factor was that there were enough citizens in this area and in "other Soviet-dominated countries who believed communism was a better social system and that it could breed a new kind of humanity" (Stranges, 193).

The apparent spread of communism caused many to question the government's policy of non-intervention in foreign affairs. A counselor in the United States Embassy in Moscow, George Kennan, introduced the policy of containment which said that America needed to stop the spread of communism and that it would eventually die out so long as it did not broaden. Not only were the American people scared of the spread of communism, but the United States government believed that communist nations would spread like falling dominoes if even one country in a region began enacting socialist policies.

The United States implemented this new policy with the passage of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan of June5, 1947. In the Truman Doctrine, then President Truman pledged $400 million in aid to Turkey and Greece in an effort to avert communist takeovers. This served as an open ended offer to nations "to choose between freedom and democracy or terror and oppression" (Stranges, 194). The Marshall Plan was an effort to rebuild 16 nations in Europe. $13.326 billion was pledged to Britain, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Turkey, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, and Austria. In the three years that the Marshall Plan was in effect (1948-51), Western Europe's industrial production increased by 40 percent, earning George Marshall (Truman's Secretary of State) the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953.

The Soviet Union was not the only nation in the postwar era to enact a communist platform. Mao-Tse-Tung and the communists drove Chiang-Kai-Shek's Nationalists to Taiwan from mainland China. The United Nations did not admit this government until October 25, 1971 and the United States did not recognize the People's Republic of China until 1979.

Korea was temporarily divided into a Soviet occupied North Korea and an American occupied South Korea. These two countries supported two different Korean governments and when the secretary of state Dean Acheson declared that Korea was not inside "the United States' sphere of interest" (Stranges, 195), North Korea attacked South Korea believing that the United States would not defend the democratic government of the south. The United Nations came to the backing of the south, which prompted China to send troops because they did not want the United States and South Korea to dominate the Korean peninsula. The war stalled at the 38th parallel in early 1951 and a 151 mile wide demilitarized zone currently divides the two sides.

Another incident with China occurred in 1954 when China began bombing Quemoy and Matsu, two small rocky islands 10 miles off the coast of China. The United States became involved by signing the Formosa Resolution in January of 1955. The resolution guaranteed to protect the two islands from China, but the shelling continued until January of 1979 when the United States finally recognized the Chinese communist as the government of China.

Perhaps the most well known communist government today is that of the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Many people may not know that Castro's first revolutionary attempt was a failure that landed him in jail for 15 months and exiled to Mexico. However, Castro was successful in January 1959 and embraced communism.

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